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Urban China Series Featuring Fang Xu – Care to be a Shanghainese? Endangerment of the Vernacular and Flexible Resident Identity
November 21 @ 8:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Speaker: Fang Xu , Continuing Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Studies Program, University of California Berkeley
The transformation of Shanghai into a global city has driven millions of Shanghainese away from the urban core; and turned both the historic urban Shanghai and its newly urbanized periphery into a manifestation of the “China Dream”. Shanghai has also experienced the influx of millions of internal migrants, and state language policies mandating the usage of Mandarin Chinese instead of the vernacular in all spheres of public life. Based on field research in 2013 and 2017, this talk focuses on how these Chinese urbanites internalize and navigate the transformed urban geographical and sociolinguistic landscape and position themselves in it. The new urban middle class anchors their identity more on social class and lifestyle than on birthplace, the household registration status, and regional tongues such as the Shanghai dialect. Nonetheless, during the draconian Covid-19 lockdown in 2022, usage of the Shanghainese vernacular became a countercultural force.
A Shanghai native, Fang Xu is an urban sociologist with expertise in language, cultural identity, migration, and public policies in urban China. She holds the position of Continuing Lecturer in the Interdisciplinary Studies program at University of California Berkeley. She is the author of the 2021 book, Silencing Shanghai: Language and Identity in Urban China. The book has received favorable reviews in journals such as The China Quarterly and Language in Society, and mentioned in magazines and newspapers such as The Economist and The Guardian. Her current research investigates language-based discrimination experienced by first-generation immigrants in the United States and their identification with the American identity.
Presented via Zoom.
Meeting link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/7060207759